TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Moisturizing agent MAIN BENEFITS: Smoothes and softens the skin by helping to repair cracks in the skin barrier thus preventing water loss; acts as a lubricating agent in products.

WHO SHOULD USE IT Emollients are good for most skin types, the one exception being those with naturally very oily skin. In this case, emollients, particularly heavy, oil-rich products, can potentially be too heavy and lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT Barring the exception noted above about oily skin and thicker emollients, they can generally be used regularly and liberally.

WORKS WELL WITH Emollients work well with a range of other skincare ingredients. In moisturizers, emollients work best when paired with other moisturizing agents that have occlusive or humectant properties, meaning they coat and cover the skin or attract water to it, respectively. They can also be combined with other actives, such as anti-inflammatory botanical extracts.

DON'T USE WITH Avoid pairing emollients with ingredients that can have potentially irritating side-effects that you don't want sealed into the skin, retinols and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids are common examples.

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